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Restaurant Michael Mina


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Interesting article in today's Chron on tonight's private gala opening of Restaurant Michael Mina in the St. Francis, where the lobby and the former Compass Rose were revamped to the tune of $4.5 million. The article also gives a brief history of the hotel.

The venture (which opens to the public tomorrow, I believe) marks Mina's return to the San Francisco culinary scene. Mina left Aqua (where he gained his reputation and developed the restaurant's signature ahi tuna steak with foie gras) in the late '90s and has been busy opening restaurants in Las Vegas, including NobHill and SeaBlue.

I won't really miss the Compass Rose, but I was fond of stopping in the lobby bar now and then; and I'm really surprised they moved that clock. Still, I'm hoping I'll have an opportunity soon to check out the new space and hopefully get a taste of what Chef Mina's up to.

Cheers,

Squeat

Edited by Squeat Mungry (log)
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where he gained his reputation and developed the restaurant's signature ahi tuna steak with foie gras

i was under the impression this was a george morrone dish, at least i saw morrone do it on the great chefs tv series.

mike

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where he gained his reputation and developed the restaurant's signature ahi tuna steak with foie gras

i was under the impression this was a george morrone dish, at least i saw morrone do it on the great chefs tv series.

mike

mike, for all I know you may be right: I personally have always thought of this as Mina's dish. I've just been googling around trying to find out something definitive, but haven't been able to. A google for "ahi foie gras mina" turns up 166 hits, while "ahi foie gras morrone" turns up 41. For all I know it could have been a collaboration: it certainly became a signature dish for the restaurant. The combination remains on Aqua's menu, though I notice no mention is now made of the Pinot Noir sauce.

Cheers,

Squeat

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where he gained his reputation and developed the restaurant's signature ahi tuna steak with foie gras

i was under the impression this was a george morrone dish, at least i saw morrone do it on the great chefs tv series.

mike

mike, for all I know you may be right: I personally have always thought of this as Mina's dish. I've just been googling around trying to find out something definitive, but haven't been able to. A google for "ahi foie gras mina" turns up 166 hits, while "ahi foie gras morrone" turns up 41. For all I know it could have been a collaboration: it certainly became a signature dish for the restaurant. The combination remains on Aqua's menu, though I notice no mention is now made of the Pinot Noir sauce.

Cheers,

Squeat

Actually Patrick O'Connell of the Inn At Little Washington beat them both with the tuna and foie gras idea.

Robert R

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tuna and foie gras

This is the type of food you get at Aqua currently (Chef Laurent Manrique). I call it Seafood for People Who Hate Seafood.

:laugh::laugh:

chez pim

not an arbiter of taste

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I cant say for sure who was first with the foie/tuna dish on the menu. But, OConnell's book with his version was published in 1996. Trotters book with his version was published in 1994.

Gorganzola, Provolone, Don't even get me started on this microphone.---MCA Beastie Boys

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This probably belongs in a separate thread, but since someone mentioned Morrone . . .

Anyone raring to check out his new restaurant, Tartare? I hear it is holding its opening on July 14th.

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Can't wait, JeffJ. My reservations aren't until the end of August.

I'm tempted by Tartare as well, but we're on a strict budget this summer and MM is already stretching it!

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I'll miss the Compass Rose. I just hope they did a better job on this remodel than they did on the back lobby, which went from poor to horrible during the last renovation. And I hope they didn't employ the genius that reworked the Redwood Room. Herb Caen must be rolling over in his grave.

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Morrone was opening Chef at Aqua and it was his signature fois gras tuna tower as well as was (is?) the very special ahi tartare, which he once told me he can't recreate because it was 'sold' to the restaurant. Mina was his Chef de Cuisine and became exec chef when Morrone left.

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It’s been called the highest profile San Francisco restaurant opening in the past 10 years. And while I don’t have the historical knowledge to judge this statement, I can conclude that restaurant Michael Mina has had a lot of thought and talent put into its conception. For those just becoming familiar with this brand new restaurant located in the Westin St. Francis hotel directly off Union Square, I highly recommend that you read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. It gives an in depth description of the genesis of the restaurant.

The Location

We were dining on the restaurant’s second night of public service. Walking into the hotel one is immediately presented with a modern, clean-lined lounge area that is situated at the foot of the restaurant’s grand staircase. Completely open to the lobby below, the restaurant has a bird’s eye view of the hustle and bustle of the hotel. Consequently, Michael Mina is not a quiet dining experience...in fact it’s one of the loudest meals we’ve eaten in some time. Some will love the energy and vibe of the room while others will find it difficult to carry a conversation or to focus on the food.

I’ll also point out that the receptionist’s podium is not visible when approaching the restaurant. You must walk up the stairs and turn left to find it. I noticed that the restaurant was getting some consistent foot traffic from people who, I assume, were attempting to drop in and dine without reservations. The problem with this is that as they reached the top of the steps, they were essentially standing in the middle of the dining room (this is due to the restaurant’s open layout.) Why have these people schlepping up into the dining room and clogging up the aisle-ways? Personally, I would have chosen to position the receptionist at the foot of the stairs so that people weren’t entering the restaurant unnecessarily. One other related note, there is a bar and small lounge area in the restaurant but when it fills up, guess where people stand? Yup, at the top of the stairs, a mere few feet away from guest tables and right in the way of the wait staff as they transport dishes, etc.

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The Menus

Michael Mina offers a unique 3 course menu. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:

Course 1: The diner must choose one selection from one of two categories: “Seasonal Menu” or “Tableside Classics”. Seasonal Menu selections are complex, multi-preparation dishes which revolve around a theme ingredient. Tableside Classics are some of Mina’s signature dishes (lobster pot pie, ahi tuna tartare, etc.) There are 5 choices in the Seasonal Menu section and 3 choices in the Tableside Classics section.

Course 2: Repeat the same process as described for course 1, choosing among a new list of dishes.

Course 3: Dessert course. Make a selection from approximately 6 choices.

An amuse bouche is also served with this menu. Price is $78 (some selections require a $10 supplement.)

The restaurant also offers two different 8 course tasting menus. “Seasonal Tasting Menu” showcases a selection of seasonal dishes listed under the 3 course menu. “Michael’s Classic Tasting Menu” includes 8 different signature dishes from Mina’s repertoire. Price for each is $120 and they must be ordered by the whole table.

Wine pairings are available for the two tasting menus. And for the 3 course menu, the staff is more than happy to recommend wines by the glass to pair with whatever food selections you choose.

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The Service

Seeing as though the restaurant had just opened for business, I wasn’t expecting service to run smoothly. And indeed, there were a couple of definite problems.

During the first course, the wait staff presented me with my girlfriend’s dish and she received my dish. This error could (and should) have been caught by double checking the silverware settings and/or wine glass pairings before setting the dishes down. For us, this wasn’t a big deal since we were sharing all our plates anyways. So we didn’t bother to correct the error as it happened.

Also, during the second course, our food was brought out well before our wine arrived. This is an obvious timing issue that needs to be worked out.

With that said, service on a whole was pretty good. Our server was extremely cordial and relaxed in nature. There was absolutely no stuffiness or pretentiousness at all. He appeared to be very well educated about the food and about the wine list.

Water service was great; glasses were kept full. And both sparkling water and coffee were on the house. Nice touch!

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The Food

We opted for the 3 course menu. Here’s a pictorial rundown of what we had:

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Lobster Bisque

Roasted Spot Prawn with Dungeness Crab and Jalapeno Hollandaise

Mock Corn Dog

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Roasted Foie Gras ~ Torchon

Apricot, Star Anise

Bing Cherry, Pink Peppercorn

Maui Gold Pineapple, Young Ginger

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Lobster Salad ~ Heirloom Tomato Ceviches

Brandywine Guacamole

Green Zebra, Whole Grain Mustard

Golden Jubilee, Buffalo Mascarpone

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Crispy Skin Black Bass

Maine Lobster, Saffron, Fennel Brandade

Razor Clams, Parsley, Corn Pudding

Dungeness Crab, Cherry Tomatoes, Whipped Potatoes

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Kobe Beef Rib Roast

Heirloom Spinach, Truffle Fries

White Asparagus, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Creamed Morels, Asiago Potato Gratin

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Fruit gratin with crème fraiche panna cotta

Strawberry

Raspberry

Blackberry

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Roasted fruit compote ~ Artisanal cheeses

Peaches - d'Alpage (cows milk cheese from the Rhone valley)

Cherries - Boucheron (aged goat cheese Loire valley)

Apricot - Mountain gorgonzola

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Bon Bons

Going into the meal, my biggest fear about this multi-preparation concept was that by the time I worked my way down the plate, the food at the far end would have gotten cold. On a whole, this was an unfounded fear. Yes, the crispy skin of the black bass was not so crispy by the third iteration, but most dishes held up pretty darn well.

However, there was a deeper concern to be unearthed by actually sitting down and eating this concept. The lobster salad plate serves as a good example: When my brain was presented with six preparations at the same time, I found it hard to focus and gain clarity on any one of the six. It was simply too many flavors and too many combinations bombarding me all at once. I was unable to sit and contemplate a single preparation because 5 more were staring me in the face. And if I was supposed to be comparing/contrasting flavors, I found it nearly impossible because by the time I reached the fourth dish I could no longer remember what the first dish tasted like.

The second course contains only three preparations and I found this to be much more manageable. Maybe it’s just my feeble mind that couldn’t wrap itself around six iterations at one time.

Moving past conceptual analysis and focusing on the quality and flavors of the food, I’d say our selections were hit and miss.

The amuse collection was whimsical yet it presented food whose flavors exuded the effort and care that had gone into its preparation. The lobster bisque was warm, rich, and vibrantly lobster-like. The single spot-prawn successfully balanced the cool accompaniment of cucumber with a late-to-develop kick from the jalapeno hollandaise. And the little mock corndog with a seafood ball inside was fun and surprisingly appealing.

The foie gras plate was very solid, especially the apricot & star anise preparation which was to die for. I especially enjoyed the torchon versions of all three preparations. The rich, buttery mouth feel of the foie, accented with brightness of a few salt crystals is hard to beat. This plate paired very well with a late harvest gewürztraminer.

However, the entire lobster plate seemed to lack coherent harmony. Although lobster and tomato were featured in every preparation, these dishes had too many things going on which made it hard to trace them back to any semblance of a resonating note. Additionally, the dish was plagued by a mundane version of guacamole and lobster pieces that were rather one-dimensional in flavor.

The black bass plate failed to present any aggressive or assertive flavors which caused me to eat my way through without ever stopping to give it a second thought. Kind of like sleepwalking while dining. And for some reason the starches on this plate had a rather grainy texture that absolutely did not work for me when paired with the fish. Wine for this course was a 2002 Petit Chapeau Macon-Villages.

Generally, things got back on track for the Kobe beef plate. The pieces of beef included too much gristle and silverskin for a restaurant of this caliber but flavor-wise it was outstanding. Again, salt crystals placed on top of the meat added so much enjoyment for such a basic ingredient. Also, the meat’s crust had a great herb flavoring to it. The creamed morel preparation was probably the closest thing this entire meal had to a “wow” moment. Very, very good. And who couldn’t love truffle fries; they were also a good accompaniment. The matching wine, a glass of 1993 Domaine Tempier Bandol, was an outstandingly smooth pairing with the meat...best pairing of the night.

Things dipped again as we headed into the dessert course. The gratin and crème fraiche dish presented nothing to write home about...pretty standard renditions. And if anything, the cheese plate was more notable for pairing the cheeses with three types of honey. I’ll also give credit to our server for going to the trouble of pairing three different wine selections to go along with the cheeses: a 2001 Moscato d’Asti with the d’Alpage, a 1998 Hirtzberger Austrian Riesling with the Boucheron, and a glass of Quarts du Chaume with the gorgonzola. However, points were lost on the fact that the cheeses that arrived at the table did not match what was listed on the printed menu.

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So what’s the final verdict? The meal as a whole didn’t blow me out of the water but it’s really much too early to tell for sure (you can’t fairly judge a restaurant after only being open for two days). However, I can provide prospective diners some advice:

1. Be ready for noise

2. You’ll be experiencing a lot of flavors…get your head in the game before you go

3. Enjoy the warm service and attentive staff

View more of my food photography from the world's finest restaurants:

FineDiningPhotos.com

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Thanks for the great review. The dishes look more substantial than I expected, but I also expected the, uh, platelets to look more different from each other than they do in your photos. I'm also disappointed that the we won't be able to order the season and classic tasting menus at the same time.

It's too bad about the noise factor. In restaurants of this caliber I expect to have enough quiet to focus on my food and my companions.

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Thanks for the review and pictures. Enjoyed it very much as it addressed some of the thoughts/concerns I had/have. Will you go back?

"Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage."

Woody Allen

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Thanks for the review and pictures. Enjoyed it very much as it addressed some of the thoughts/concerns I had/have. Will you go back?

I would return but not anytime in the near future (too many other great places to try). On my next visit I'll probably opt for the Mina "Classics". I've had the Black Mussel Souffle and the Lobster Pot Pie in the past and they were both amazing.

View more of my food photography from the world's finest restaurants:

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Just $200 per person to experience Michael Mina's Food as Theater, including tip & wine: A Culinary Delight. Initially disappointed by the loud talking in the restaurant and the stuffy-looking interior, the food won me over. Halfway through the tasting menu with one dazzling course after another, even the stuffy ambiance took on a softer twilight, with waitstaff dressed as ninjas swooping back and forth in perfect coordination. Our 8 courses included delectable Osetra Caviar, a spectacular Ahi tuna tartare with sesame oil, raw quail egg and hot peppers, a Black Mussel souffle with a succulent Saffron Essence, Michael Mina's signature lobster pot pie, a marvelous Chilean sea bass followed by roast poussin with mac & cheese sauce, a steak rossini with foie gras and finally terminating with a divine chocolate cake and peanut butter milk shake. To be REAL picky, the souffle was a tiny bit dry until you added the "to die for" Saffron sauce, the lobster pot pie sauce was a bit overwhelmed by the lingering aftertaste of the superb Saffron essence presented before it, and the mac & cheese sauce seemed a bit cutesy in the line of preceding rich sauces, but the line of course progression was irresistible and the experience totale unforgettable. A few tiny lapses in service didn't detract from Michael Mina's being San Francisco's ONLY potential comparable Michelin Three-Star Equivalent. Hooray.

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Having had dinner at Michael Mina tonight I'd say the place is a mess. The staff was all over the place - either in each other’s way or nowhere to be found. The wine list is impressive though the markup is quite high; there are good deals to be had if you look hard enough. The food, while conceptually sound, was poorly executed: the texture of almost every item was off - overcooked pasta, undercooked peas, overcooked carrots, overcooked fish, and oddly chewy Kobe beef. The tuna tartare, although it had a good texture, was at best confused, and most of it was left on the plate. On the bright side, the sauces were all excellent; the dishes all were well thought out and most will likely be quite successful once the kitchen has spent more time working together. At this point the quality of the food and awkward service aren’t worth the $150+ per plate cost. I’m much more excited to return to Gary Danko than to Michael Mina.

(Our tab for 4 people was $700 including 1 bottle of wine purchased from the list and 1 bottle of wine brought with us, 2 glasses of dessert wine, the 3 course menu, three $10 supplements for the lobster salad & kobe beef, sparkling water, tax, and 20% tip)

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  • 3 years later...

Have there really been no reports on Michael Mina in 3 years? :shock: I went during a recent trip to San Francisco for a medical meeting. It is interesting to read the above comments and see how the restaurant has and has not changed.

My party and I found the restaurant to be quite comfortable with superb, smooth, unobtrusive but extremely competent service. It did not seem too loud at all.

The ordering options included a Three Course Prix Fixe at $98 with supplements for specific dishes, or a six course seasonal tasting menu for $135 (Vegetarian Menu also available). For the three course menu, options consisted of Mina's signature "Trio" plates or one-plate "classic" preparations. Since the tasting menu requires the participation of the table and at least one person was not interested in doing so, we opted for the three course prix fixe.

To be honest, I was not quite s thrilled with my first two courses as my dining companions were with theirs. Although I took photos of my plates and not theirs, theirs did look more enticing.

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The place setting has not changed.

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Trio of Amuses based on corn - corn fritter, butter-braised lobster with polenta and corn chowder. Each was delicious and more sophisticated than the simple descriptions belie. For me, these were the highlight of the savory portion of the meal.

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Galapagos Shrimp - Heirloom Tomatoes ($10 supplement)

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"A la Plancha, Castel Vetrano Olives, Sylvetta" - this was the most disappointing dish of the meal for me as it was quite simply very bland. Ironically, this was the preparation that inspired me to order the dish.

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"Butter Poached, Basil Pasta, Elephant Garlic" - novel preparation of very familiar flavors, this was very nicely done and my favorite of this trio.

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"'Po Boy' Tempura, Remoulade, Espalette pepper" - the most surprisingly delicious of the trio, was a nice take on a familiar dish.

The Galapagos shrimp was good, though it paled in comparison to other regional shrimp varieties I have had. It certainly was not worth the supplement. My curiosity got the better of me as I would not have ordered it if I wasn't curious about the Galapagos aspect of its origin. Heirloom tomatoes turned out to play a very minor supporting role in this cast.

My dining partners had "Jackfish Trio - 'Konichiwa'" which consisted of hamachi tartare with uni aioli, radish and Persian mint; Bleufin toro with rice cracker, Asian greens and yzu vinaigrette; and albacore tataki with tempura maitake, edamame and marinated mushrooms and "Devils Gulch Rabbit - Summer peppers" which consisted of leg roulade with tarragon mustard and piccalilli; leg confit with chorizo and pimentons de Padrón; and loin with pole beans and sweet pepper relish. They were each very satisfied with their dishes.

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My main course was "Grilled hawaiian Walu - Relish Trio."

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Watermelon Relish, lemon cucumber and cilantro vinaigrette - this was tasty with good balance of the elemental flavors.

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Hass avocado puree with Braised radish and pickled green papaya - this was perhaps my favorite of the trio. (Yes, this and the preceding dish are in fact different preparations.)

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Brentwood corn, jicama and huitlacoche coulis - this was the reason I ordered this dish, however, the flavors lacked intensity or at least the intensity that I expected from it.

Overall this dish was good, albeit without any real zing on the palate. My dining partners had "Elysian Fields Farm Lamb loin - Ratatouille" which appeared to be a lamb lover's dream. The meat looked great. I avoided this course because I am not a big fan of eggplant and despite how much I enjoyed the movie, this didn't excite me - until i saw the plate on the table. My wife ordered another dish that I had considered - "'Three Little Pigs' - loin, belly and rib" - also delicious and superior to my own dish.

The wine list was beautiful and as expensive as it was expansive. We settled on a relatively reasonable JEAN-MARIE FOURRIER ‘GOULOTS’ 1ER CRU 2002 from Gevrey-Chambertin in Burgundy for $185.

Dessert was the highlight of the meal for me. While one of my dining companions was particularly and to her surprise enamored by the devil's food, kalamata olive combination in one of her Chocolate dessert trios, I very much enjoyed my "Breakfast" trio.

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"Yogurt Mousse, lemon cake and poppy seed granola" - the style of all three plates, though still original in their fruition clearly and understandably were influenced by Pastry Chef Bill Corbett's stint as pastry sous chef under Sam Mason at WD-50. I also had the chance to sample Chef Corbett's excellent work at Dona in NYC before it closed. In any case this was fun and delicious.

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"Cereal Ice Cream, huckleberry, cornflake" - if this does not transport an American adult back to childhood, nothing will.

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"French Toast, maple custard, yali pear" - The epitome of comfort food.

Though I could have ordered better (though it shouldn't have mattered what I ordered if it is on the menu), our overall experience at Michael Mina was quite positive. I believe the restaurant despite my lackluster savory courses, most likely is deserving of its two stars from Michelin. If I were to return, I would like to sample the tasting menu and/or some of the "classic" plates.

I apologize for the relatively poor quality of some of the photos as the light was rather scarce in the restaurant, making it quite difficult to shoot close-ups without flash.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

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  • 3 months later...

Working my way through "the best that San Francisco has to offer," I was almost ashamed that I had not yet visited Michael Mina. I almost felt I did not need to, as my visit to his Stonehill Tavern last August was far from memorable. But I hate to judge any restaurant chain on only one visit so I made the excursion last evening to Mina's San Francisco branch for a pre-theater excursion.

Dining alone, I opted for the more extensive, 6-course tasting menu instead of the limiting 3-course/3-taste option. The evening's offerings:

Amuse - a demitasse of creamy porcini soup topped with crème fraîche. With as cold as it has been, accompanied with some Iron Horse Michael Mina Blanc de Blanc bubbly, it was a nice start; warm, rich, and comforting.

Albacore Tataki - served with Japanese Cucumber, pickled radish, tamari vinaigrette. The wine pairing was a Maximin Grünhaus Riesling Kabinett 'Herrenberg' Ruwer, 2006. This was a cold preparation on the fish; previously grilled for a crust, but then chilled with a raw interior and topped with a sweet, dark glaze. The cucumber/radish combination were paper-thin slices which ringed the dish. These were more decorative than adding anything to the flavors. Honestly, the wine pairing for this dish was an abomination. The wine was exquisite with a hint of a lime nose and a sweet, compelling flavor, but far too sweet to accompany the sweet glaze on the fish. A Grüner Veltliner would have been a far better choice.

Grilled Spanish Mackeral - served with Vandovan curry, granny smith apple, and wood sorrel paired with Joseph Matrot Meursault-Blagny 1er Cru, Burgundy, 1998. To start, the wine was creamy with a hint of wood and citrus and a faint layer of butterscotch; rich and unctuous. The fish was a hot presentation, grilled atop a layer of creamy curry. While perfectly grilled and prepared, I would have preferred more sauce and definitely more apples to accompany the piece. The apples were a tiny brunoise, and then, only two or three tiny cubes at that. This one went back mostly half un-eaten.

California Squab - served with foie gras, toasted farro, and Lacinot kale. This wine pairing was L'Arlot Nuits St. Georges 'Petits Plets' 1er Cru, Burgundy, 2005. The wine had a strong, bright berry aroma and was young on the mouth. It paired well with the dish which was ultimately the winner of the evening. The squab was placed next to a 1" square of seared foie and both sat separated by the greens atop a bed of farro. The sauce was rich and the perfectly-prepared squab was a nice contrast against the meltingly elegant foie.

Kurabuto Pork Loin - served with crispy belly, canary tongue greens, red onion marmalade paired with Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône, Rhône, 2003. The wine produced a nose of fabulous dark fruit, black raspberry, and a hint of dried herb. There was an earthy entry with a eucalyptus finish. This is an astonishingly fabulous wine and some research will be done so acquire some as I think it will taste amazing in a decade or so. This was the heartbreak dish of the evening; the loin was so tough has to require no less than eight to ten passes of the knife to cut a bite (yes, I counted as I sawed). It was also too remarkably similar to the squab with a pedestrian protein being served next to a contrasting square of melting fat and in this case, the crispy belly was barely that. Honestly, when I want to eat fat, I either order foie or marrow bones. I only ate a bite or two of this and sent it back most un-eaten. Travesty.

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Loin - served with socca, baby artichokes, and Castelveltrano olives. The wine pairing was Qupé Syrah Cuvée Michael Mina, Santa Barbara County, 2006. Two loins, each one had more than a fingernail-sized hunk of fat within which had to be butchered out. What was edible was tender but I didn't like having to work for it. The accompaniment of artichokes and olives was odd. It worked well with the Syrah which was horrifically too young to drink. Dark cherry and molasses, there was a clean mint hint on the entry but turned harsh with alcohol in its youth.

Running out of time, I could not opt for the Apple Tart Tartin sweet and had only the cheese offering:

Blue Del Moncenisio - served with Aleppo oil, celery sorbet, and Marcona almonds. The wine pairing was Charles Hours Jurançon 'Clos Uroulat', Pyrenees, France, 2004. This is a lovely sweet wine, a relatively closed nose due to its chill but blossoming in the mouth with tangy floral delight. It also paired extremely well with the cheese -- but only the cheese. Honestly, the combination of a celery sorbet and a spicy pepper oil was a perversion of an offering. The celery flavor with the sweet wine did nothing other than taste fishy and the pepper oil fought with the spice of the mold in the cheese. What were they thinking?

Needing to rush to the get to the theater, I rushed through my coffee and ice cream lollipops; one chocolate-covered bergamot and the other, a green tea. These were nice and I'm sorry I didn't get to savor them a bit more instead of having to scoff them down.

A note on the ambience; the room is large with vaulted ceilings and large columns. However, the proximity of a busy bar and the acoustics of the room made it louder than I would have thought. In considering this against some place like the Ritz, this is quite bustling and noisy.

Lastly, a word on service. In my last year of high-end dining, rarely I have met with such amiable and enthusiastic servers. They were considerate of the fact that I had a book open in front of me during my two-hour meal, pleasant and cordial. While I was obviously taking WINE notes (I took home a menu and made no food notes during the meal), they were conscientious of that fact and forward in pouring more of something they thought I would appreciate. I mentioned that I thought the Riesling was an incorrect pairing and the server indicated he would share my thoughts.

If only the food matched the amazing service. In all six courses, only one was worthwhile; the squab. And one of the two fishes was definitely not fresh (as attested to some later evening "difficulties" to which I succumbed). How desperately sad. In thinking back over the meal, it was too often a travesty of mediocre meat with a slight smattering of vegetables that lacked balance and thought.

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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Carolyn--did the staff mention anything about the dishes that were largely uneaten?  It seems that if some dishes were less than half eaten, especially so early in the meal, they would sense something were wrong.

No - as they were cleared away by busboys versus waitstaff. They mostly just motioned to make sure I was not eating any more; but not WHY.

To his credit, one waiter asked about the pork after it had been cleared and I indicated it was very tough. He said he would notify the kitchen but I never heard anything after that...

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